Jack Kirby was called the King for a reason. After leaving Marvel, he went to DC and in the space of four years, he drew an average of over two dozen pages of comics a day. He created two legendary mythologies, the New Gods and the Great Disaster. The Great Disaster consisted of Kamandi, and to a lesser extent, OMAC, the One Man Army Corps.
OMAC is one of those often forgotten legacies of Jack Kirby. It contains some very biting social commentary in the framework of a futuristic science fiction story. DC Comics has never been able to build on its legacy to any large extent, but not for a lack of trying. A John Byrne prestige format mini-series was critically successful, but was terminal in its nature. In 2005, the character was reintroduced into the present day as an army of mindless drones. During the New 52, a new OMAC series by Kieth Giffen fared poorly and was cancelled. The fact that a Kirby creation has yet to see the creative spark rekindled speaks volumes about Kirby’s brilliance in the face of unrivaled output.
Writer/Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker/Letterer: D. Bruce Berry
The Crime Cabal has an insidious racket. The brains of old, extremely wealthy customers are put into the beautiful, vital bodies of kidnapped victims. It’s a racket still in its planning stages, under the direction of Fancy Freddy Sparga. All of this information has been gathered by a Global Peace Agent. The Peace Agents wear faceless masks to conceal their identity and race and to promote the idea that the represent all people across the Earth. Fancy Freddy targets OMAC and the Peace Agent with operatives using mobile missile launchers. Seeking to stop those that would stop this new venture, they fire on OMAC’s location.
OMAC manages to save himself and the Peace Agent. Brother Eye buys OMAC the time he needs to stop Fancy Freddy’s operation before innocent people are killed over the desire of dying wealthy clients to cheat death. The orbiting satellite helped protect OMAC with an energy shield and then constructs two bodies to give the impression that OMAC and the Peace Agent died in the attack.
OMAC tracks down Buck Blue and arrests him for being a body snatcher for Fancy Freddy’s operation. Other hoods in the holographic hunting alley attack, but OMAC deals with them easily. Buck Blue cooperates reluctantly, leading OMAC to the operation. Global Peace Agents are en route to follow him. Buck Blue takes OMAC to the sun plalace of The Godmother of the Crime Cabal. Her guards attack OMAC on sight, OMAC shows Buck Blue what Freddy’s operation is. One of the bodies he pitches to the Godmother is Buck’s own girlfriend.
When the Godmother pays Freddy the two million for the girl’s body, OMAC and Buck storm in. Freddy squelches Buck Blue’s outrage with a payment from Freddy of a half million. OMAC threatens Buck with exposing him as an informant. Since this would put on target on his head, Buck agrees to reveal the location of Freddy’s operation, which sends Freddy into a murderous rage. He is stopped from killing Buck by the Global Peace Agents. OMAC then tells Buck that he’s going to lead him to the terminal where OMAC and Buck are going to crack it open by themselves, or die trying.
It can be difficult to review anything that Jack Kirby had 100% control over. One has to make exceptions since Jack Kirby is so stylized in both art and writing. It looks to be obvious that in crafting the world of OMAC, the visuals came first, and a story was created to explain them. The Global Peace Agents are specifically what I’m referring to in this issue. The striking visuals are reminiscent of Steve Ditko’s Question, and so striking that Kirby can use a similar concept and give it an almost opposite meaning from the Question. Trying to tie these two concepts together is an error at this point, The way it was eventually done by DC Comics is almost farcical, given the wide gap between the philosophy behind the Peace Agents and Ditko’s Question.
Kirby’s artwork here is astounding in it’s level of detail. What I find astounding is that this was one of three comics Kirby had on the stands this month. The others were Kamandi #30 and Our Fighting Forces #156. If he worked on these simultaneously, he averaged around two pages a day. With this detail and that level of output, Jack Kirby becomes the artist that astounds other artists. Kirby’s style is consistent and recognizable even to a casual fan. There’s a structure that holds everything together beneath the flourishing design Kirby gives the book.
Is there a weakness to this comic? At times, he does invoke a lot of exposition, sometimes needlessly. One could argue that these moments help shape the world that OMAC lives in.
Notes: Almost all of Kirby’s work from the Silver and Bronze Ages has been collected. This is no exception. DC Comics has gathered this in Jack Kirby’s O.M.A.C.: One Man Army Corps in both hardcover and paperback. The original issue will cost you a few bucks, depending upon condition, but bargains can be found. This is a series that is often overlooked in the shadow of the New Gods. If you’re just looking to read the issues, then you should buy the issues digitally on a platform like Comixology.
Final Rating: 9.5 (out of 10)
Jack Kirby was indeed the King.